“This is addressed to all readers, but especially young women, who are enjoying prime working years, developing skills, acquiring friends and contacts, and making money. You may be delighted with your income, even if it’s not quite as high as you believe (or know) your male colleagues earn. You’re probably not thinking about your “golden years,” when much of your income may be a Social Security check. But here’s why you should.
Many have forgotten that until the 1970s women had no access to real wealth, except through men. Even heiresses saw their money managed by male advisers. Remember the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire,” with Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe? Each was in search of a man with money — a smart move, considering there were few other avenues open to them if they wanted to live in relative comfort. Women who married for money were disparagingly referred to as “gold-diggers,” but the financial outlook was bleak for an unmarried woman. It was widely understood in the 1950s and 1960s that a woman in pursuit of a college education was really looking for her M-R-S degree.
Things have changed since then, but evidence abounds documenting the gap in pay. And even if women’s pay were suddenly equal to men’s, inequities will remain, because of the disparity many years ago. Here’s what I mean. A senior citizen at last, I now receive Social Security. The amount of the monthly check is directly proportional to what I have paid into the system over the course of my working life.”